Comparing the Short Story and the Movie

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SWBAT identify and evaluate the differences between the short story and the movie version of "Flowers for Algernon."

Big Idea

Small choices make a big difference when you compare texts.

Latin Roots Warm Up: PORT and REG

10 minutes

This is our daily warm up, wherein students work with two or three Latin roots per day.  The resource that I use to get my roots is Perfection Learning's Everyday Words from Classic Origins.
Every day, when the students arrive, I have two Latin roots on the SmartBoard.  Their job is to generate as many words as they can that contain the roots, and they try to guess what the root means.  After I give them about five minutes, we share words and I tell them what the root means.

The students compile these daily activities in their class journals.  After every twelve roots, they take a test on the roots themselves and a set of words that contains them.

Reviewing the Activity - Preparing to Watch the Movie

10 minutes

Before we started watching the movie, I distributed the comparison chart and asked students to fill in the information in the "short story" column.  I wanted them to focus in on the characterization, etc. in the short story before they saw the film.

This is not the first time that we have viewed a film after reading a written piece, but the sheet gives them some things to consider before they get "swept away" by the film.  

Also, I told students that they could fill in the "movie" column while they watched the film, or after it was finished.  Most students chose to just watch the film, rather than taking notes at the same time.

Viewing the Film

40 minutes

The students seemed to really enjoy this movie, but it is definitely a "Hollywood-ization" of the story.  Charlie is played by Matthew Modine, who stands out in the group of special needs adults because he is handsome and obviously intelligent.

The funny thing that the students noticed is that the filmmaker really adjusted Charlie's hair to show his transition from special needs to genius, then on the decline once again.  I have to admit, it was a good observation, even if it is a humorous one.

Note:  There is a scene in the movie wherein Miss Kinnian and Charlie share a very passionate kiss, and then her naked back is seen in the morning (wink, wink.)  I skipped the scene on the DVD, just because it wasn't in our story (or even implied, though Keyes did develop the story into a whole novel which contains elements that or story doesn't have.)

Also, just for fun, I showed the students just the opening five minutes of Charley, starring Cliff Robertson.  It is from 40-50 years ago, and the students could really see a difference in the characterization of Charlie Gordon.  We had a brief talk about how our understanding of people with disabilities has changed over time.  It was interesting.

Filling in the Chart

10 minutes

After watching the entire film and reading the story, I had the students complete the chart that they began before we watched the movie.

 We spent a few minutes discussing which version they preferred.  Most said the movie, mostly because the progress report format that Keyes used for the story didn't allow the students to connect with characters as much as film did.